In defence of bad movies: the people who love ’em and the people who hate ’em

In defence of bad movies

“Yeah, well, you know… that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
– Jeffrey Lebowski (Not to be confused with the other Jeffrey Lebowski)

Hello, my name is Another Film Nerd* and I love dumb movies. Not all of them, but a fair few.

Some dumb movies I like ironically (see Olympus Has Fallen), others (see The Fast & The Furious franchise) I love because of the sheer amped-up, turn-it-up-to-11 way it embraces its own dumb and some I honestly cannot say why I love em (see Reindeer Games, a film that I love passionately, but still cannot say whether it’s intentionally stupid or not). Other dumb movies (see the collected works of Michael Bay from Pearl Harbour onwards) I can’t stand.

The way some would portray it, one such dumb film – Jurassic World – represents the greatest threat to modern cinema since Adam Sandler. Jurassic World (or as I prefer to call it, the one where we coulda had a John Sayles dino movie but didn’t) is the mega blockbuster that’s launched a thousand think pieces – ranging from pondering the unnecessarily brutal death of a character who didn’t deserve it, to ranking the stupidity of the various characters, to the dangers of Jurassic World’s success.

I’m not going to argue the merits of these pieces, mainly because I haven’t seen Jurassic World. Many people I know and respect agree that the unnecessary death piece is valid, despite my protestations that – in a movie where all characters effectively exist as various forms of dinosaur fodder – everyone should be at risk of ugly, brutal deaths, even other dinosaurs. And, despite my initial protestations, I can accept that. I’ll also happily acknowledge that the Indiewire piece doesn’t attempt to portray Jurassic World as the biggest crime against cinema known to man (hear that, Michael Bay? Your title is safe, at least from Indiewire’s point of view).

Where I have trouble is the bile that flows both ways in the debate over Jurassic World. Some critics have effectively said (or implied) that if you like Jurassic World, you’re an idiot, or you have terrible taste in movies. Fans, in turn, have argued that critics who don’t like Jurassic World are snobs who can’t ‘turn their brain off’.

Now I cannot say with absolute certainty whether I’ve used the ‘turn your brain off’ defence when I’ve argued in favour of some dumb movies. I’d like to think I haven’t. But I have a notoriously bad memory. So, I might have.

What I can say is that enjoyment of movies is much like falling in love. Sometimes it defies explanation and happens even though your friends tell you it’s no good for you. Many, if not all of us, have a movie that we love to death that goes against all logic and popular opinion.

It’s the joy of movies and one of the reasons why I love cinema. Movies can resonate with us for wildly different reasons. Doesn’t mean anyone’s wrong to love said film or that anyone’s wrong to dislike said film.

Hell, I’m sure there are people out there who got as many laughs out of Blended as I did out of Mel Brooks’ The Producers. I know people who cried when Bruce Willis bought the farm in Armageddon (disclaimer: I may have cheered…. along with saying something about how the asteroid should’ve done better and taken out Affleck as well). Doesn’t mean either of us are wrong. Just means we have different tastes. And we should all be OK with that. The world would be a dull fucking place if we all agreed about everything.

I’m never going to convince everyone of the sheer awesomeness of Reindeer Games, and conversely, no amount of critical shellacking (or disowning from its stars) will convince me that my love for said flick isn’t genuine, or that I don’t really enjoy the film (I do. It’s as regular as Christmas movie staple in my household as Die Hard).

Argue the merits? Fine. Challenge on points where you disagree? Have at it. But don’t try to tell me I’m wrong, because that’s just, like, your opinion man.

Smart, dumb. It shouldn’t matter.  Movie love is just that. It’s love. I’m still trying to work out if I think Tony Scott’s Enemy of the State is one of the smartest dumb moves, or one of the dumbest smart ones… all I know is I love that sucker. It’s a love for all the potential that cinema has to offer and the joy that can come with the creativity of others and the sheer spectacle it can offer. It can also come from having ideas challenged, world views changed and philosophies put to the test. People shouldn’t be condemned for wanting something that isn’t demanding. Likewise, people shouldn’t be condemned for disliking something because it doesn’t challenge them.

I’ve seen critics get bitchslapped for putting Hana-Bi at the top of their all-time favourite movies (not sure it would be at the absolute top for me, but dear lord, it’s definitely in there for me). I’ve seen fans bitchslapped for liking Jurassic World, the collective works of Michael Bay or the Twilight movies. And quite frankly, nothing good ever comes of it.

Why can’t we just collectively enjoy the things we all like, and respect each other’s opinions when we don’t? Seems like a simple concept, but for many, it appears to be a difficult one to embrace. As Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson once said in a movie that got a fairly large bitchslap from some very reputable critics on its release, “Why can’t we all just… get along?”

* Not my real name